The week in marketing: 25 November 2008

LONDON - A roundup of the important stories from the world of marketing.

Conservatives' bombshell

The Conservative Party has launched a 21st-century version of its famous 'tax bombshell' campaign, which helped it defeat the Labour Party in 1992.The poster, which shows a missile wrapped in Christmas paper, carries the strapline 'However Gordon wraps it up, it's still a tax bombshell'.

Vans driving around busy shopping areas in central London will feature the poster, and 200,000 leaflets claiming government borrowing will soar to £100bn by 2010 will be distributed at commuter railway stations and in target constituencies. 

As the campaign was unveiled, Tory party leader David Cameron warned that Gordon Brown is planning a £4000 'tax bomb-shell' for every British family.

Gaymers faces music

Gaymers Cider Company will boost its investment in music sponsorship in 2009 by taking title sponsorship of the Gaymers Camden Crawl music event. Previous Crawl events have included performances by bands such as The Kooks, Kate Nash and The Fratellis.

Npower begins debate

Npower is aiming to engage consumers in an online debate about energy pricing amid negative publicity as energy firms register big profits. A dedicated website will feature a video of veteran journalist Peter Snow interviewing Npower's chief retail executive, Kevin Miles. The site also addresses frequently asked questions such as 'Why are energy prices so high?' and 'Petrol companies change prices quickly - why don't energy companies?'

Staples pushes gifts

Staples, the stationery retailer, has launched a campaign highlighting the number of its products suitable for Christmas presents. The ad, created by McCann Erickson, is part of an integrated drive designed to show that Staples' product offering extends beyond stationery. The retailer's most recent TV ads ran in August, encouraging parents and children to do their back-to-school shopping at its stores.

Visa fills top role

Visa Europe has hired former Leagas Delaney managing director, Colin Clarke, as its senior vice-president for brand management. His most recent position was at clothing brand Levi's Europe, where he was director of consumer marketing. Clarke will be responsible for all brand communications.

InBev snags Anheuser

The Office of Fair Trading has cleared the takeover of Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch by Stella Artois owner InBev. The deal is worth $52bn (£35bn), making it the biggest all-cash acquisition in corporate history.

Fox agrees Xbox deal

Twentieth Century Fox has signed a six-figure deal with Microsoft Advertising to promote the cinema release of The Day the Earth Stood Still on the Xbox. Xbox users can access and download free content including trailers, images, branded themes and icons ahead of the film's launch on 12 December.

Osbourne is animated

Kelly Osbourne makes her cinema debut this week in an animated ad campaign for Virgin Media. Following in the footsteps of Mel B and Mick Hucknall, she appears alongside Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson to promote the brand's video-on-demand service. In the ad, Osbourne pays a visit to a fictional rehab clinic called 'The Friary' to see a therapist specialising in SADOS, which stands for 'sons and daughters of stars'.

Fast food gets healthy

McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Nando's, Subway and Wimpy have pledged to make their products healthier. All have agreed to reduce salt and saturated fat levels in their bestselling products, swap sauces, dressings and oils for alternatives that are lower in saturated fat, and add more healthy menu options.

Microsoft story deal

Microsoft has partnered with the family entertainment company Chorion, which owns the children's brands Noddy, Mr Men and Padding-ton Bear, to create an inter-active storytelling application on Windows Live Messenger. The free, animated application lets parents read stories to their children via a webcam from another location. Children can interact with the pictures on screen while hearing their parent's voice and seeing their face.

Stella pushes safety

Stella Artois has launched an out-door marketing campaign intended to encourage people going out during the festive season to plan ahead and 'get home safe'. The push was planned after research by the brand suggested that 83% of revellers have been stranded after a night out. The activity includes a dedicated campaign website.

Shirt sponsor fall-off

The value of shirt sponsorship for Europe's elite football teams has dropped for the first time in six years, according to sponsorship agency Sport+Markt. The total value of these deals across Europe's top leagues fell from e405.3m (£345m) last season to e393.2m (£334.7m).

For the full report, visit marketingmagazine.co.uk

'Save Tango' ad break

Soft-drink brand Tango has returned to edgier advertising in a campaign that broke this week. The ads, dubbed 'Save Tango', portray the drink as a British institution.

According to Tango, the brand is under attack from 'poncy smoothies and the finger-wagging, corduroy-wearing, PC brigade.'

Sony in Christmas ad

Sony is to promote its Sony Centre retail chain and online channel, Sonystyle.co.uk, in the UK over the Christmas and January sales period. The print, TV, online and in-store campaign is the first from agency TBWA\London since it won the £4m ad account in September. The TV ads feature a Sony Centre, which will be followed up in December with product-specific ads.

Preview the campaign at marketingmagazine.co.uk

T-Mobile pulls ads

The ASA has instructed mobile operator T-Mobile to withdraw print ads claiming its £30 packages give consumers the most mobile minutes, after rival operator 3 complained. The latter subsequently created a viral video mocking T-Mobile's ads. The original

T-Mobile execution depicted a vet rummaging in a cow's hindquarters to highlight the claim that consumers could not find more minutes anywhere other than with it.

3's response repeated the theme, but featured an excrement-encrusted 3 logo emerging from the cow.

Watch the spoof video at marketingmagazine.co.uk

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